IBFAN is once again following the proceedings of the WHA74 taking place virtually from 24 May to 1 June 2021.

This year, as part of the WHO Reform agenda WHO is now proposing to accept only  grouped statements from NSAs – suggesting that this is a way to ‘enhance’ the NSA voice. We share the concerns of many other civil society members that this will stifle the voice of civil society, while increasing the voice of actors with links to industry. We continue to urge countries to increase core, untied funds for WHO so that it can act independently according to its mandate.

IBFAN Statements:

Agenda item 16 (Committing to implementation of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016−2030)

IBFAN has partnered WHO for over 40 years, helping with the adoption of the International Code and the 19 Resolutions that governments use to adopt legislation that will protect against predatory marketing. We all know that the Code needs to evolve – like a vaccine – if it is to tackle new strategies such digital marketing and the commercialisation of cloned breastmilk components – not imagined in 1981. That is why it is so important to ensure continued biennial reporting at the Assembly.

The Reform agenda is now threatening this healthy dynamic. Civil society is not homogenous. Forcing us to speak as one with NGOs who have very different views about corporate funding will dilute and stifle important messages.

Other threats to child health are the funding initiatives, such as the WHO Foundation and N4G, that encourage donations from businesses and associations who have no intention to follow WHA recommendations, who push ultra-processed products that falsely claim to build immunity and who add to the climate crisis.  Such funding allows companies to massage their image and infiltrate policy spaces. This will have long-term impact on national laws and threatens the integrity and trust placed in WHO.

We warmly appreciate WHO’s support for the Code’s 40 year celebration last Friday and its plans for 21/22. We urge Member States to watch the recording. But before it’s too late,  we urge WHO to adopt sound Conflict of Interest rules that will protect mothers and babies. Thank you.

 

Statement by the People’s Heath Movement (PHM)  and Medicus Mundi

MMI and PHM statement on 26.2/26.3- WHO Reform and WHO Transformation It is now 10 years since the WHO reform agenda was launched and almost 4 years since the start of the WHO transformation agenda. It is time for reflection and course correction. A key rationale behind the WHO reform was to facilitate sustainable and predictable financing for WHO. When the reform was initiated, the share of sustainable financing through assessed funds was above 22% of the budget. After 10 years of reform, the share of sustainable financing has come down to 17% of the budget, and another working group on sustainable financing was just set up by the EB. In the name of governance reform, the space for formal participation of Member States and Non-state actors has been further reduced. We are concerned that the introduction of constituency statements will stifle the voice of public-interest organisations. On the other hand, FENSA has failed to fence-off conflicts of interest and is instead an excuse to sideline norms and standards that ensure arm’s length relations between WHO and NSAs with links to industry and other possible conflicts of interest. Ideas that were rejected by Member States, such as a “World Health Forum”, are regularly brought back as part of governance reform. We are seriously concerned about WHO accepting money from industry through other entities. This is amplified when the concerned entity carries the name of WHO. There is currently no mechanism to ensure accountability of the WHO Foundation to Member States. In short, the reform and transformation agenda of WHO has added more challenges to the credibility, integrity and independence of WHO. We call upon Member States to urgently address these issues rather than leaving it to a set of technocrats and management consulting firms.”

See previous blogs:

The sessions can be watched live on 24 May – 1 June 2021. Recordings will be available in the sidebar listing.

WHA Documents

on this link you can find the agenda, the Daily Journal that is updated every day, the statements by NSAs – some grouped together and some individual.

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Agenda Item 17  WHO’s work in health emergencies and strengthening preparedness for health emergencies (due to a technical hitch we could not make this intervention)

During emergencies, babies are at greatest risk of water-related diseases – with diarrhoeal disease the second biggest killer of under-fives.  Breastfeeding is resilient and provides food, care and  immune support –  protection from the worst of emergency conditions.  Member States can  protect breastfeeding and child survival  by adopting the Operational Guidance for Emergency Relief Staff and strong legislation that prevents predatory marketing BEFORE and DURING crises

We know that deforestation, land-grabbing and mono-cropping add to the  climate crisis and are fundamentally linked with health outcomes and emergencies. Funding initiatives such as the WHO Foundation and N4G  that accept donations from companies who have no intention to follow WHA recommendations and who push harmful ultra-processed products into emergency situations with claims that they build immunity and protect against viruses,  threaten the integrity and trust placed in WHO. Such schemes allow companies to pretend they have humanitarian motives. It’s time to see through these strategies and adopt sound Conflict of Interest rules and increase Assessed Contributions from Member States instead.

Geneva Global Health Hub (G2H2)

G2H2 is a membership-based association created in Geneva in 2016 to provide a space and enable civil society to meet, share knowledge and create initiatives to advocate for more democratic global health governance. Do explore the G2H2 website for useful and important information for civil society about WHO matters.

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